By LYNNE IRONS
Suzan Bellincampi’s All Outdoors column last week was so informative about plastic bags. All I could think about was the scene in The Graduate: “I have one word for you, Benjamin — plastics!”
Not only was she on the money about all our carry-out bags going forever into landfills and beyond, but what about the packaging of every product we buy? Almost all of our food comes in at least one layer of the stuff, not to mention the totally annoying hard plastic — impossible to open — on everything from flashlights to toxic Chinese toys. Way to go, Suzan.
Hopefully, Thanksgiving Day was enjoyed by all. I was thinking about traditions in various families. My father was one of 12 children and we lived near most of his siblings and their children. We met at Grandma Kate’s for the big feed. Now that I think of it, there was total separation of the sexes. The women cooking, laughing and drinking coffee in the hot kitchen while the men hovered around the television worshipping football. They needed to be coaxed to the table. My grandmother made quite a number of pies that are memorable to this day.
When I started my own family, I realized I could start my own traditions. The first to go were those marshmallows on the candied yams. Yuck.
Sometime in the 1970s Alan Wood, the then-pastor of the Stone Church in Vineyard Haven, passed out this wonderful story. We adopted it as our family tradition. We set out five grains of corn at each place setting and read the following before grace:
“In early New England, it was the custom to place five grains of corn at each place as a reminder of the first winter. The food supply of the Pilgrims was so low that only five grains of corn were rationed to each individual at a time.
“The Pilgrim fathers and mothers wanted their children to remember the sacrifice, suffering and hardship which made possible the settlement of a free people in a free land. They did not want their descendants to forget that on the day in which their ration was reduced to five grains of corn, only seven healthy colonists remained to nurse the sick, and nearly half of their number lay in the windswept graveyard on the hill . . .
“Thanksgiving Day is the expression of the deep gratitude for the rich productivity of the land, a memorial of the dangers through which we have safely passed, and a fitting recognition of all that God, in infinite goodness, has shared with us.
“As we gather on this Thanksgiving Day, let us remember those who passed a rich heritage to us and give thanks for the many reasons this can be a day of joy.”
I planted garlic this week. Separate the bulbs into single cloves and plant them pointed-end up about four inches apart. They will be ready to eat next August, having formed their paper on the new bulbs. I plant the hard-necked variety because they are easier to separate. They do not, however, store as well as the soft-necked types.
Since I live in New England, I would be remiss to talk about Thanksgiving without a mention of Plymouth. Get this: they are going to spend $680,000 to build a new granite cage around Plymouth Rock because tourists keep chipping away at it and it has become disappointingly tiny. Is it, in fact, the Rock?